Buckyballs form up into quasicrystal layer


The fullerenes assemble in pentagonal tiles that produce patterns that do not repeat © ACS

Flat, two-dimensional layers of molecules structured like quasicrystals – crystals that show order without repeating patterns –  have been made for the first time by scientists in the UK and Japan.

These scanning tunnelling electron microscopy images show buckyballs, or molecules of C60, that have been sputter coated onto the surface of a quasicrystalline alloy of aluminium, copper and iron at very high temperatures. The buckyballs form a lattice of pentagonal ‘Penrose tile’ shapes as they interact with iron atoms in the crystal and adsorb to its surface. Dan Shechtman was awarded the 2011 Nobel prize in chemistry for his discovery of quasicrystals in 1982.

The team, led by Joe Smerdon at the University of Central Lancashire, also created similar two-dimensional quasicrystalline layers out of rod-shaped pentacene molecules on the surface of silver–indium–ytterbium quasicrystals, consistent with those predicted in recent theoretical models. They say this template-based approach to making quasicrystals could potentially be scaled up to produce larger systems.

Related Content

Quasicrystals Scoop Prize

28 October 2011 Feature

news image

This year's Nobel laureate in chemistry fought hard to win acceptance of his discovery: quasicrystals. Laura Howes tells how ...

Molecules mimic mesmerising mathematics

22 April 2014 Research

news image

Computer modelling predicts formation of molecular quasicrystals

Most Read

No-frills coats set a trend for designer viruses

26 August 2014 Research

news image

An artificial protein that self-assembles around and protects DNA could be ideal for gene therapy, nanomachines and synthetic...

Rigid molecular wires make electrons fly

29 August 2014 Research

news image

Organic wires conduct electrons 800 times faster than other molecular counterparts by hitching a ride on a vibrational wave

Most Commented

3D printing cuts fuel cell component costs

4 July 2014 Research

news image

Hardware hackers encouraged to exploit new manufacturing approach in open source schemes

Life in the freeze frame

26 August 2014 Premium contentFeature

news image

Using x-rays to probe biological molecules has revolutionised science. Clare Sansom looks at a century of progress